Britney Lo Midaberet Ivrit

Apparently, Britney Spears can’t read Hebrew. Sources told the London Sun that the pop diva had a tattoo with Hebrew letters on the back of her neck, but “they are absolute gibberish.”

“She had hoped it would say ‘new year’ or ‘new era’. It seems she’s got the words the wrong way round.”

If only Madonna had been there to set her straight.

[Update] More on Britney, Madonna and the Kabbalah craze here. (c/o AKS)

19 thoughts on “Britney Lo Midaberet Ivrit

  1. i’m sure that usage was an oversight…i tweaked it
    the tattoo thing is true, the image is a joke–says jewschool in yiddish
    ocean–is that a real photo? where’d you see it?

  2. main article in the new republic right now is about the kabbalah centre. they’re even more f*cked up than you previously thought.

  3. It is mem heh shin.
    It is one of the triads of the 72 letter name of God, that according to the Kabbalah center is the name for healing energy.
    It is very meaningful
    The London newspapers have it all wrong.
    They probably asked someone who knew Hebrew, but who did not know about the 72 letter name.
    It is the London papers who are gibberish.

  4. Hey Mo, how does that say Jewschool in yiddish? I see the ‘school’ part, but i’m lost on the Dalet-Zian-Shin-Vav part. i assume i’m reading it worng, so someone, help a brother out.

  5. Though i’m not much of a fan of the kabbalah center, at least maybe high profile non-jews expressing a deep interest in judaism might help to bring some jews back from the brink of assimilation.

  6. solomyr — daled zayin shin vav = dzshew, aka jew. it’s transliteration. otherwise, it’d say judenschule.

  7. Wait, if the Kabbalah center knows the 72 letter name of God, doesn’t that make them omnipitent or bring the messiah or something. Come on, you’ve seen Pi. Hey, maybe that’s how Brittney and Madonna do so well…

  8. Knowing it doesn’t mean you know how to intone it, nor that you’re righteous enough to do so.
    On another note, The DaVinci Code is a much better, and more factually accurate version of Pi, regardless of how much I love that movie.

  9. yes, but that’s yiddish transliteration, not hebrew.
    I’ve never heard this before — would be curious to hear the history behind it. In the meantime, today’s Ma’ariv listing the names of the new Supreme Court judges, including Salim Joubran (gimel, hook, vav, bet, resh, alef, noon).

  10. yep – i see gimel apostrophe all over israel in signs and ads and stuff. i think it’s pretty standard these days…

  11. Aspiring Jewish Educator with a BA in Judaic Studies and Linguistics to the rescue!
    As far as i can tell…
    The transliterations with apostrophes (or ‘smitchiks’ as i call ’em) are a Sephardic invention, found in Ladino (Judeo-Spanish). In Ladino (when it’s written in Hebrew letters, at least) you have a number of letters written with a little “U”-shaped mark or horizontal line over them. They use it for two purposes:
    1. distinguish B and V, and P and F:
    ‘v’ is written Bet+smitchik (PRVB’Y [prove] = Spanish ‘pobre’)
    ‘f’ is written Pei+smitchik (P’ASYS [fases] = surface)
    2. mark sounds that don’t exist in Hebrew:
    ‘zh’ is written Shin+smitchik (P’YSh’V [fizho] = Spanish ‘hijo’)
    I’ve also seen a Gimel+smitchik used to spell “noche” (night), but i don’t know if in Ladino it’s pronounched with “ch” or whether it’s with a “j” sound.
    This system is related to Judeo-Arabic, Arabic dialects spoken by Jews and written in Hebrew letters, where they would put dots over letters in imitation of the way the Arabic script distinguishes between similar-looking letters. So since Arabic has two letters that look the same, except ‘H’ (Mizrahhi ‘hhet’) is written without a dot and ‘kh’ (Ashkenazi ‘khet’) is the same letter with a dot over it, Judeo-Arabic spelled ‘H’ with ‘Hhet’ and ‘kh’ as ‘Hhet’+smitchik.
    In Ashkenaz, on the other hand, they used letter combinations. Yiddish (Judeo-German) has no Hebrew letter to use to spell ‘tch’ (like in ‘tchotchka’), so they spell it Tet+Shin; as if we were to write the English word “catch” as ‘catsh’; it sounds the same.
    They also had to make up ways to spell less-logical sounds, like ‘zh’, which unlike ‘tsh’ can’t be analyzed into two separate sounds (linguists call the ‘tsh’ sound an ‘affricate’ – it starts off with a ‘t’ stop and then releases air into a ‘sh’), so they decided to use the two closest letters they could find, together: Zayin and Shin.
    So now they had a way to spell ‘zh’. The English “J” sound, as in “Jewschool”, is phonetically the same as “tsh”, just ‘voiced’ – so it also starts off with a stop, ‘d’, and releases into a ‘zh’.
    ‘d’ = Daled, of course.
    ‘zh’ = already been decided to spell it Zayin+Shin.
    Therefore, ‘J’ (‘dzh’) must be spelled with the amusingly long three-letter combination Daled+Zayin+Shin!
    Hope that helps.

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